Chief UK negotiator scuttles soft-Brexit deal with resignation
Fractious politics threaten another European leader’s grip on power, raise specter of new elections
Speculation is swirling on Monday that UK Prime Minister Theresa May is headed for a second general election test in just over a year, following the surprise resignation of Brexit secretary David Davis.
Davis, who is the top cabinet member in charge of leading negotiations with the European Union for Britain to exit the bloc, said he had grown frustrated with what he saw as an overly compromising approach from May.
The surprise resignation came just hours after the Prime Minister was able to secure support for a Brexit plan seen by moderates as more realistic than what the hardliners in her own conservative party – including Davis – were calling for.
Davis was asked Monday morning on the potential impact of the compromise deal. “Is it really leaving at all?” asked the BBC.
“I don’t think so… look, this is a dodgy compromise, what’s the point? If we are going to do this, then for goodness sake let’s do it properly or just stay in.”
The secretary’s resignation has doomed the plan for a softer Brexit in the short term, many are saying, dealing a devastating blow to May.
Davis resigns. Mark this spot. This is the point where it becomes more rather than less likely that we will not now have Brexit without first having either a General Election or a Referendum.
— Paddy Ashdown (@paddyashdown) July 9, 2018
The Prime Minister had already lost confidence among much of her conservative party, following a snap election called last summer to shore up support and consolidate her position. The gamble was a dramatic failure, which saw her party lose a majority in Parliament, forcing it to form a tenuous alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.
Mounting uncertainty in UK politics coincides with struggles facing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while the political establishment in other parts of Europe, including Italy, is in upheaval. Merkel has been forced into a difficult balancing act, also challenged by a more hardline (on immigration) faction of her coalition, and similarly weakened after disappointing results in recent general elections.